I Was A Child Sponsor
For many years my wife and I sponsored children in third world countries through various charitable organizations. The children we sponsored lived in India and Paraguay. This was a source of joy for us as we were helping to educate and care for these children whose families were unable to do so.
Language was not a barrier. Their letters to us and our letters to them were translated by local staff. These letters were our connection to our children and through them we learned about the children and their families. We sent them photos of ourselves and our family, and Easter, Christmas, and birthday cards.
In addition to the monthly sponsorship amount, we sent additional funds to the children to help them and their families. The children would write and tell us what they did with the funds. One boy in India used some of the money we sent him to help repair the family hut. He also bought a goat, and by the end of our sponsorship of him he had a small nest egg saved. Quite a little businessman he was.
The last child we sponsored lived in Paraguay. We felt the closest connection to her. She was about eight when she was assigned to us and we were her sponsors for four years. Because she was older, her letters provided more information about her family and their life in Paraguay. With the additional funds we sent her she bought a bicycle, clothes, and other items for herself and her mother.
She told us when she got a dog. His name was Tarzan. And she told us when Tarzan got himself a girlfriend and when the puppies arrived.
And then one day we received a letter from the organization through which we sponsored our Paraguayan daughter. Our sponsorship had ended abruptly as our daughter was being moved to another school and would continue her education with another organization. We were stunned.
A few days later we received a letter from our child and we could feel the tears in her words. We were heartbroken, especially me, because I am more emotional than my wife. Way more emotional. Even as I write these words I’m tearing up. I wrote her an emotional goodbye assuring her that we would never forget her just as she promised to never forget us.
The organization offered us another child but we declined their offer for a couple of reasons.
1. The way they notified us that we no longer had a child in Paraguay was harsh, insensitive, and cold.
2. The organization had adopted a policy of adding an administration fee to any additional amounts sponsors wanted to send to their children. This fee was 25% of what you wanted to send. So, if I wanted to send $100 I would have to add $25 and send $125 to the organization. They would keep $25 and send $100 to my child.
I thought that this fee was exorbitant and wrote the organization. The president called me and did his best to justify it. I didn’t buy his explanations.
Despite these points, my wife and I feel blessed that we were able to help the children we did. We were happy to do it, and are now looking at how we can continue to help others in meaningful ways.